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Top 5 Foam Roller Exercises for Back Pain and Aches

If you’re over the age of 25, you’ve likely experienced back aches at some point in your life. Back pain is one of the most common types of muscle pain that adults experience. It could stem from multiple things we do daily, like sitting at desks, slouching, standing all day, or even exercising. But you don’t have to accept your back pain, and there are easy ways to get rid of it. Foam roller exercises for back pain exist, and they work.

How Can a Foam Roller Help With Muscle Pain?

Foam rollers are not only for enhancing your workout routines. Many people have caught on to the therapeutic and rehabilitation benefits of using a foam roller.

But how exactly do they help you with muscle pain?

Proper use of a foam roller is an excellent way to alleviate muscle pain. By massaging the muscles, you draw more blood to the region where the pressure is applied. This blood causes the tissue to regenerate quicker, which will help with soreness and pain.

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What to Avoid When Using a Foam Roller

Before you start foam rolling, you need to know how to do it correctly. Foam rollers are useful equipment that can help your muscle pain, but if you use them incorrectly, they can be dangerous. You could even make your back pain or injury worse, which would make recovery take twice as long.

Make sure to avoid these things when using foam rollers:

  • Don’t apply direct pressure: It may seem like the best thing to do is apply pressure directly to the area. Do not make that mistake. Applying direct pressure where you experience back pain runs the risk of making it worse. Instead, use the foam roller near or around the area. Besides, the source of the pain is usually a result of an issue near but elsewhere in the body.
  • Don’t roll too quickly: Foam rollers massage your muscles to promote blood flow and tissue regeneration. This is why it’s important to roll as slowly as possible. You need to give your muscles the chance to acclimate to the amount of pressure you’re putting on it.

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Here are five effective foam roller exercises for back pain that you can do almost anywhere.

5. Hip Flexors

hip flexors foam roller

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One of the most common areas where adults feel pain is the lower back. Lower back pain is usually stemming from sitting or standing for an extended time or bad posture.

Lower back pain makes it difficult to do everyday things like sitting, standing, or bending over. To help ease lower back pain, try this next exercise.

How to Do Hip Flexors

  1. Kneel with the foam roller in front of you.
  2. Lay down with the foam roller directly under your hip flexors. Your legs should be extended and your forearms directly on the ground for support.
  3. Lean onto your left hip and roll slowly back and forth. Use your toes for support.
  4. When you’re done with one side, switch over to the next.

Caution: Do not roll directly on the hurt area. The front hip flexors connect directly to your lumbar spine, which will help alleviate lower back pain. You shouldn’t roll directly on your back because lower back pain is caused by an issue of spine alignment. Sore muscles aren’t the source of lower back pain. Rolling out the hip flexors is a smart way to help with your back pain.

4. Chest Roll

chest roll foam roller

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It may seem silly to roll out your chest muscles when dealing with back pain. Most people don’t know that the source of back pain is usually from issues in other parts of the body. Like with lower back pain and hip flexors, upper back pain is usually from stiffness in the chest.

Upper back pain is common in people who spend hours of the day at a desk, hunched over and staring at a computer. The chest muscles become tense from the poor posture and being stuck in the same position. This then causes the discomfort of back muscle pain.

While you should take steps to improve your posture in the long run, chest roll exercises can help with the immediate pain.

How to Do a Chest Roll

  1. Start in a similar position to the previous exercise except with the foam roller under your armpit. Your arm should be fully extended.
  2. Press your chest into the foam roller and roll back and forth slowly.

Women should be careful not to hurt breast tissue with this exercise.

3. Glute Roll

man using foam roller glute

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This exercise is called the glute roll, but you’ll be specifically targeting a muscle called the piriformis. The piriformis is an important muscle that connects the two hip bones. It is almost parallel to the gluteus muscles. The piriformis extends to the top of the femur and is responsible for how the upper thigh moves.

Using a foam roller helps you to get a deep massage of the glutes and then the piriformis. You’ll be getting a good workout in this area and indirectly relieve back pain.

If lower back pain is a recurring problem for you, the glute roll coupled with the hip flexor roll is the perfect remedy.

How to Do a Glute Roll

  1. Start in a seated position with one on the floor and the other leg resting on the knee.
  2. Place the foam roller under your glutes.
  3. Keep your right leg on the floor and your left leg resting on the other knee. Roll the right hip back and forth.
  4. Roll slowly to get a deeper massage of the piriformis.


  1. Start with the foam roller under your right glute like before but instead, turn your torso to the right.
  2. Place your right hand on the ground on the opposite side of the foam roller.
  3. Roll slowly back and forth. This focuses more on the specific glute muscle.
  4. Switch to the other after at least a minute of rolling.

2. Thoracic Spine Stretch

foam roller spine extension

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Back pain has a lot to do with the way your spine is positioned most of the time. As mentioned above, upper back pain can come from being hunched over a desk. It can also come from certain exercises that we do, like cycling (bike riding and spin class) and weightlifting. The thoracic spine stretch is responsible for releasing tension and improving the alignment of the spine.

How to Do a Thoracic Spine Stretch Warm-Up

  1. Lie on your back with a foam roller vertically under you. Your foam roller should be long enough to support your head and tailbone.
  2. Place your feet on the ground in front of you with your knees bent.
  3. Extend your arms out in the shape of a T on either side of your body.
  4. Breathe deeply and ease into the deep stretch.

Do this exercise for 30 seconds to 1 minute.

How to Do the Thoracic Spine Stretch

  1. Lie down with the foam roller under your upper back. Be careful to keep a perfect posture during this exercise, or you run the risk of injury.
  2. Keep your knees bent and feet flat on the floor in front of you.
  3. Let your head fall to the ground behind you. Your entire upper back should be extended over the foam roller.
  4. Roll up and down slowly. Do not move your neck during this exercise or you could hurt yourself.

This workout will help you with a lot of upper and lower back pain you may experience daily. Follow the instructions carefully and keep your spine extended. Doing this wrong could result in a back injury.

1. Child’s Pose

foam roller going into childs pose

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To round out our list of foam roller exercises for back pain, we have the yoga classic, the child’s pose.

If you’re familiar with yoga, you know that a child’s pose is a deeply satisfying stretch of the spine. You may regularly do this after a round of vinyasa flow or to rest your back after an intense asana. Adding in a foam roller is a great way to add a little tension and relieve some upper and lower back pain.

We recommend doing this to either start off your round of back exercises or to close it out. You can also pause to do this randomly throughout the day. It’s easy and convenient for any time you need that extra stretch. Believe us, your spine will thank you.

How to Do the Child’s Pose

  1. Get into the child’s pose position, with your face down, hips extended back.
  2. Put the foam roller under where your hands normally are. For a deeper stretch, you can open your legs and sit your hips back as far as you can go.
  3. Breathe deeply, allowing your chest to rise and fall with every breath. Hold this position for as long as you need to.

Next time you have backaches, try these five back exercises and stretches to help your sore muscles. If you are searching for a new foam roller, we compiled a list of the best foam rollers in 2019.

Top 5 Foam Roller Exercises for Back Pain and Aches

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